My number one tip + absolute best advice is — MAKE THE BIG DECISIONS FIRST.
Once you have decided on the overall vision for your elopement day, the next step of the planning process is to start making the big decisions. These are the decisions that will most affect your day + experience, so making these FIRST will help make every other decision a bit easier!
The BIG questions to ask yourself are:
Who are you inviting?
Where are you getting married?
Incorporate these questions into your brainstorming process + take your time with making the decisions. Make sure that the answers to these (big) questions align with the vision you both have for your wedding day.
For some couples, these are super easy questions —and for others, it can be a discussion. The truth is—an elopement can be anything you want it! It doesn’t have to be just two people. You can absolutely still have an intimate elopement experience and a day that’s fully centered on celebrating your relationship with your closest friends and/or family.
While you + your lover are thinking over all the details of your day, here are some thoughts on what to consider when eloping with family and/or friends, how to involve your friends & family, and how to break the news that you are eloping! Because…If you do decide to invite family or friends along, no matter if they’re there for just a celebratory meal, getting ready, just the ceremony, or the whole day—make sure they’re fully on board with your elopement day vision. Make sure they understand that you’re not having a big traditional wedding—but a unique celebration that’s intimate and authentic to your relationship.
Remember- there’s no right or wrong answer in this process. There are many different ways to celebrate and include your close family + friends. Make these decisions based on what feels right to the two of you. Don’t give in to those expectations and DON’T let anyone else tell you how to have your day.
There are so many different ways to include your family and friends in your day, if you do decide to bring them along!
Planning a ceremony that includes your family and friends in your elopement is a beautiful way to have the people closest to you standing by your side as you commit your lives to each other. Although, you might have to consider making compromises about the ceremony for accessibility
If you want to involve your family and friends in your ceremony, but don’t want to make compromises on your ceremony location you can have a private vow-reading at an epic location with just you and your partner, and then have another ceremony with your family and friends at a different time of the day. You can choose to either read the same vows for both ceremonies or you can have a different type of ceremony in front of your family and friends. This way, you get to read your vows in total privacy, in the exact location you are envisioning, but also have a meaningful ceremony with the people closest to you.
If you like the idea of doing two ceremonies but feel like that would make for a very long day—spreading your elopement experience over two days can be the perfect solution to really being able to relax and not feel super rushed or exhausted. You can include your friends and family on the first day, and then have a second day all to yourselves. Or, you can have your dream 2-person elopement experience on Day 1, and then celebrate and take photos with your friends and family on the following day.
Your family and friends can be physically present and involved in your wedding day, even if you don’t necessarily want them at your ceremony. You can invite them to help you get ready or see your first look, and send you off to have your private ceremony. Or you can invite them to take some formal portraits with you afterwards and have a celebratory dinner together in the evening.
If you choose to have a “just us” 2-person wedding, or if you have family or friends who aren’t able to be physically present—there are tons of creative and beautiful ways they can still be involved in the process:
Whether you’re eloping just the two of you or inviting some friends & family, it’s important to think through how you want to tell everyone your decision to have a wedding day that’s a bit untraditional + unique to the two of you.
You can choose to tell everyone in advance and even send out an announcement, you can tell a select few people, or keep your plans entirely secret and announce it after. Do what feels right to the both of you! Here are my best tips on how to break the news to go over as smoothly as possible if you choose to share:
Dropping hints before your elopement can ease friends and family into the idea of you eloping without you formally having to tell them yet—which could help reduce any objections. If there are certain people you expect will be more skeptical of the idea of an elopement, you can also ask other friends and family members to help you drop hints too.
Many couples opt for telling their friends and family that they are eloping in-person because it makes it easier to be able to explain your vision + why you are choosing an elopement, and it allows you to share your genuine excitement through your facial expressions and voice. But if they don’t live close by, video chat is always an option to share the news with them yourself — instead of them hearing it from someone else and potentially feeling very left out.
Some friends and family members might not react very well to your plans. Often times it can be based upon the misconception that your elopement means you are excluding them—this is why taking the time to explain your reasoning behind why you decided to elope can help relieve those negative feelings.
Common reasons you can share are:
Asking your friends and family to participate in your planning process can help them be (and feel like they are) involved in your day in some way, while also helping them feel as though they aren’t excluded. Telling your friends and family about all the small details of your elopement can help them be excited for you + understand the time, energy, and thought that you’ve put into creating your elopement ceremony. In general, keeping them informed allows them to be a part of the process, share in your excitement, and know that they are important to you!
Some couples reveal their elopement with their friends and family by surprising them with the elopement pictures—which are the best and most tangible way to show how much fun you had on your actual elopement day. Sharing your photos with those who weren’t physically present can help them better understand what your elopement was all about They can see your joy + happiness, and hopefully understand how incredibly special the day was for you and your partner.
It’s good to empathize with friends and family who may be initially upset by your plans—but don’t forget that your wedding day is a celebration of you and your partner (not anybody else) and that you deserve to have a day that feels right and authentic to you two.